SCRANTON -- A jury in Lackawanna County convicted a dog owner Tuesday afternoon of animal cruelty charges.
John Tanis was found guilty of mistreating the animals at his home in Moosic.
Tanis of Moosic was found guilty of five counts of animal cruelty. The jury deliberated for about an hour and a half.
With the case behind them, Lackawanna County prosecutors characterized Tanis’ home in Moosic as a "puppy mill." They told Newswatch 16 Tanis neglected just certain types of dogs.
Members of the animal rights group Tracey’s Hope filled the courtroom hoping they’d hear that guilty verdict. It had big implications for them. The victims of this animal cruelty case have become their foster pets.
Since Moosic Police started investigating John Tanis’ latest animal cruelty case in 2012, Tracey’s Hope has fostered 30 of his dogs.
“He needs help and we understand that, but we’re just happy and elated that we got the dogs. They're safe, they're happy and they will never have to endure the abuse that they had endured at his home,” said Denise Kumor, CEO of Tracey's Hope.
A jury found Tanis guilty of neglecting and starving five of his dogs.
Prosecutors said he had 13 dogs at his house on Main Street in Moosic. The dogs were all of different breeds and different ages, but the only dogs found to be sickly and starved were adult Weimaraner.
“He was producing puppies and he picked and chose who he wanted, what breed he wanted,” said Assistant District Attorney Robert Klein.
Prosecutors made that point in closing arguments, saying Tanis neglected the dogs that may have been less valuable to him.
Though Tanis did not take the stand, and his defense attorney didn’t call any other witnesses, Tanis has maintained that the five dogs he was charged with abusing were poisoned by someone else.
Jurors did not buy that story. Now, Tracey’s Hope will wait to see if they can keep Tanis’ dogs.
Prosecutors said Tracey’s Hope will have to wait until Tanis’ sentencing in a few months to see if they can officially take ownership of 30 dogs they have taken from Tanis’ home, but it is unlikely that Tanis will be allowed to keep dogs as a condition of his sentence.
John Tanis is still locked up awaiting bail.